In Conversation With… is our latest series profiling incredible women in the wellness industry. First up is Michelle Roques O’Neil, founder of Therapie Roques O'Neil (one of our bath and body brand partners) and an aromatherapy specialist.
Our team at Sijo is thrilled to have expanded our product offering to include bath and body products. We have incredible partners, one of which is Therapie Roques O'Neil, a body care line with an aromatherapeutic lean. I had the pleasure of chatting with brand founder Michelle Roques O’Neil, which covered topics spanning the the brand to health to her personal philosophy on self-care.
Read on to discover her incredible story, and to pick up a few wellness tips and tricks!
Aromatherapy Expert and Founder of Therapie, Michelle Roques O'Neill
Image Courtesy Michelle Roques O'Neil
On her beginnings in the world of aromatherapy and journey to creating Therapie:
"Interest in mind body and spirit fueled my work and made me develop my own treatment -- psychotherapy for the body. I worked with the body as an emotional entity and worked with issues that hadn't been dealt with, and that shaped how I designed my oils."
Michelle had been involved in the therapeutic world for 35 years, and she trained as an aromatherapist. She learned from the grassroots with the woman who brought aromatherapy practice to the UK. It was her first introduction to how powerful oils were for making people physically stronger, and how it worked on the psychology and spirit. Michelle worked alongside her for four years and then went out on her own.
She wanted to create a line that extended what was done in the treatment room with patients, and thus developed "alchemical aromatherapy potions." The second goal was to help people understand that taking time to care for yourself should be more of a necessity than a guilty pleasure.
She noted, “You don’t have to put aside time like a spa day, but you can integrate [the products] as part of your everyday.” She put this philosophy into action with the Therapie product line, as many of the items can be used on the go. For example, the Aura Spray. This spray can be misted onto your face or into the air around you (all ingredients are skin safe materials). Simply spritz and breathe deeply for an instant reset.
On common misconceptions about aromatherapy:
“I think people don't understand how deeply essential oils affect a person, and that it's not just about the smell, it's also about how it's absorbed into the body and how the smell and absorption of the oils effects you once it's in the circulation. And there is a simplistic attitude about the oils, because they are aroma.” Michelle notes that the nose has four thousand smell receptors that are connected to the limbic system, meaning that more than aromas, they are activating areas of the brain that connect to things such as emotion and memory, while also influencing the nervous system and even the endocrine system (this is part of the science behind why certain scents bring back strong memories).
“A lot of people make aromatherapy products and they can sometimes be a bit pedestrian because they're the three to four oils everyone knows. They're great for you, but not a lot of thought goes into the blending [of Therapie products] because there's a special drive and passion that pushes me to research and look at oils.”
On the Therapie Roques O'Neil products she sees as introductory items to you, our Sijo customers:
“Himalayan Detox Salts are a cult product in the UK. They buy tons of salt a year (4 to 5 tons!!) because it's been so popular. Initially, it was a product that was for detoxification... the kind that removes the pollution of everyday life or the digitally toxic culture (i.e. EMF activity, not resting and always being on the go).”
She's found that a lot of people were overextended and unsure of how to reel themselves in, so the Himalayan Detox Salts are good for periods of overextension and a high-anxiety, over stimulated state. It's meant to be used at night by following the ritual on the jar.
“Skin tingles and you just warm yourself. That's for anybody who is super stressed or anxious. It has lots of other things that it will help with -- aches and pain, arthritis, inflammation, PMS, -- all products are multi-taskers and don't only have one function. So it's good for post-exercise, too.”
Another recommendation is the Restore Aura Spray. The rose water is sourced in small batches from Lebanon, and it includes bits of crystals, specifically rose quartz and amethyst. It’s also a favorite of legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, who Michelle counts as a client.
On her philosophy on the connection between mind/body/spirit:
“From my perspective, I think quite often people respond to feeling unwell or feeling unbalanced when it hits a physical level, but there are many other levels that go out of balance that are finer when it comes to energy. You feel flat, uninspired, not full of joie de vivre, and your mind becomes more critical and judgmental and the sky is always gray. Staying in that mental attitude knocks into how you feel emotionally. Physical issues are linked to an emotional connection."
When she makes and designs products, she looks at how she wants the product to function on all levels. She asks, "What happens when the body goes out of balance? What is the optimum thing to reach as part of becoming in balance?" Those factors go into how she creates something.
When she looks at ingredients, there is a focus on oils. Her process means she blends similarly to a perfumer...placing certain oils in combination to amplify or impact one or the other. It also effects and amplifies potency, which is key. Because she takes such great care, people share feedback that show how her products stand out. This is something our team also noticed. Her products have something extra to them, and it's truly a testament to her expertise and careful, thoughtful work.
“One of the other things about the range is that stress is such a major factor, because stress manifests in so many different ways -- insomnia, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, feeling very, very tired -- all are symptoms of chronic stress. Every product works on a different element of stress.”
Michelle notes that in the realm of mind/body/spirit, the physical elements are the last symptoms to be experienced. Physical stress is pointed out in treatments with her to help clients understand the manifestations of stress, or what's going on emotionally or spiritually. While people might not be able to understand the way that stress manifests, she makes sure to help explain the connections and to ensure they find balance in order to help them better recognize and remedy the stress.
On what she does to unwind and take care of herself:
"I do a practice in the morning which is called 'morning pages,' and it is something that is part of Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. One of the exercises is morning pages, which is dumping whatever is in your mind (anxiety, frustration, gems of inspiration). You do that for 3 pages, and it helps declutter your mind and your brain. I then follow with affirmations, deep breathing, reiki.”
Occasionally, she also reads, and uses a set of tarot cards by Fountain. They are modern and not quite as mystical as regular tarot cards, but she notes, “they give you life answers,” and she likes working with them. She always has Restore Aura spray to spritz herself and take two or three deep breaths to refresh herself. Lastly, she uses Boost Hair and Body which can put you in, as she brilliantly calls it, a "cocoon of zen-ness." This is a phrase we will be using for the rest of time.
On favorite single-ingredient essential oils:
“I have three. Neroli... makes you feel coddled and lovely. Second is jasmine sambac: jasmine from the far east, bodied. And lastly, rose. The most expensive essential oil is a rose derivative, and a little goes a long way and can easily be diluted...less is more. They each do different things. Neroli is sedative, jasmine is sensual and rose is great for opening the heart.”
She ended our conversation by sharing this important reminder that I think we all tend to overlook:
“Making time for yourself is not an indulgence, because that way, you can become the best person you can be, and it has a positive influence on the people around you.”
Michelle is a positive, calming presence, and truly a joy to speak with. I’m so grateful that she took the time to speak with me, and to share so much about her incredible brand with the Sijo family.